Angola to revise abortion legislation

Over two thirds of pregnancies were successful in women who received the treatment, compared to less than half for those who didn’t.
©DragonImages/Istock.com
Over two thirds of pregnancies were successful in women who received the treatment, compared to less than half for those who didn’t. ©DragonImages/Istock.com

Angola's ruling party has bowed to public criticism of a proposed law banning all abortions and instead accepted a revised bill allowing terminations in cases of rape or maternal health risk.

The about-turn follows a rare rally in March when roughly 200 demonstrators protested against the proposed bill under heavy police surveillance in the capital Luanda.

"We have decided to listen to the pressure from society," the president of the ruling MPLA party's parliamentary caucus, Virgilio de Fontes Pereira, told reporters on Monday.

The initial draft penal code brought before parliament in February would have punished anyone who had an abortion or performed one with up to 10 years in jail - with exceptions in cases of rape or risk to the mother's health.

But the draft code was strengthened after lobbying by church leaders led to the removal of the limited exemptions, triggering a fierce public debate.

Ninety percent of Angolans are Christian.

The harshest version of the law was sharply criticised by President José Eduardo dos Santos's daughter Isabel, reported to be the richest woman in Africa.

Isabel dos Santos used her Instagram social media account to denounce the "criminalisation of women".

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